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Reviews in Project: Translation (402)

A small cornucopia

Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something

By Kaoru Mori  

5 Aug, 2015

Translation

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When Yen Press sent me Emma Volume One, they also sent me 2012’s Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something. Unlike A Bride’s Story and Emma, this isn’t an installment in an ongoing series. Rather, it is a collection of Mori’s short pieces, an interesting introduction to her work if you’ve not read her before.

This will be short.

Mori provides such number of short pieces that they exceed my willingness to take this chapter by chapter. The volume is just under 210 pages and there are forty-four items listed in the table of contents. I could take them one by one, but that would result in a very long review. It has been my experience that the longer my reviews, the less likely it is that people will respond to them. As someone once said, More Words, Deeper Hole.

Mori leads with a selection of longer pieces (although if you have not noticed that the collection is to be read right to left, you may think she’s ending with longer pieces inexplicably printed in reverse). These tend to be standalone pieces, essentially short stories. The second half of the book has a selection of shorter pieces, some single page and other, like the extensive study of corsets, somewhat longer.

Although this isn’t a long collection, the number of works included means that the author can cover a fair range in terms of subject matter and tone. There’s screwball comedy, what appears to be a melancholy lesbian romance (or whatever you call it when neither person admits that’s what’s going on), something that may be intended to be to Bunny fantasies what Hotel California” is to the American Dream, non-fiction, and more. Not bad for a book that’s not much over 200 pages.

The author also includes, where appropriate, commentary on the various pieces.

If you haven’t given Mori a try, this is a pretty good place to start. It’s not long, so you are not investing a lot of time, but the number and variety of pieces included means that a reader will get a pretty good idea of Mori’s range. 

Kaoru Mori: Anything and Something is available from Yen Press.

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No shinjū featured in this story

Emma  (Emma, volume 1)

By Kaoru Mori  

28 Jul, 2015

Translation

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No, not the Jane Austen Emma. Aside from nation of origin and sex, Kaoru Mori’s Emma has almost nothing in common with the more famous Emma; neither class, occupation, personal character, nor personal history.

Emma has no money, no family, no surname, and she owes her position as a maid (and her education and her glasses) to retired governess Mrs. Stowner’s generosity. Despite her lack of prospects, she gets lots of offers, being a comely lass. But Emma has no interest in matrimony

And then one day, Mrs. Stowner’s former student William Jones comes to pay his (extremely belated) respects to his former governess.…

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Comedic Sociopathy Meets Military Science Fiction

Black Lagoon, Volume One  (Black Lagoon, volume 1)

By Rei Hiroe  

22 Jul, 2015

Translation

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2003’s Black Lagoon manga collection is military fiction! it’s a translation! Two, two, two reviews in one! 


Although one might argue that this book is at best marginally SF, as the only aspects that seem at all speculative are the alternate laws of physics to which some of the characters appear to have access.

The crew of the repurposed WWII-era torpedo boat Black Lagoon (Vietnam War vet Dutch, nihilistic gun nut Revy, and hacker Benny) don’t bother with the conflicted personal histories of a Drake protagonist or the shiny white aura of a Pournelle mercenary. On the grand moral scale of sell-swords, they’re well towards the unabashed-villains end of the scale. The only reason they’re at all sympathetic is because their enemies are even more depraved (and because the plots conspire to keep them from giving in their their worst impulses). 

Enter the unfortunate Rokuro Rock” Okajima, a salaryman who has the great misfortune to be in possession of a computer disk the Russian Mafia hired the crew of the Black Lagoon to … acquire. The crew have no problem snatching the disk and as an extra cherry on the sundae, they snatch the hapless Okajima as well. Why not? If he proves useless, they can always toss his bullet-riddled corpse over the side.

And it gets worse from there.

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Moments in a life

A Bride’s Story, Volume Two  (A Bride’s Story, volume 2)

By Kaoru Mori  

16 Jul, 2015

Translation

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Ideally one starts an ongoing series with volume one … but sometimes life is not ideal. What I actually have on hand is volume two of Kaoru Mori’s manga series A Bride’s Story, so that’s where I began. First published in 2010 as 乙嫁語りor Otoyomegatari, the English language translated version was released only a year later. 

In the previous volume, Amir, a young woman of a nomadic Turkic tribe roaming somewhere near the Caspian sea, was married to Karluk, whose people are sedentary. As was customary for this time and place, the marriage is not a love match but a political alliance. The marriage forms a bridge between the two communities. Neither the bride nor the groom had much say in the arrangement. Nevertheless, Amir and Karluk seem compatible enough. With time and effort, they should be able to forge a solid family. 

If only Karluk weren’t twelve to Amir’s twenty… 

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Not quite a jolly romp

Let The Right One In

By John Ajvide Lindqvist  (Translated by Ebba Segerberg)

11 Jul, 2015

Translation

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I needed something to review for Saturday (all the remaining commissioned reviews are waiting on books yet to arrive). John Ajvide Lindqvist 2004’s novel Låt den rätte komma in (published in English as Let The Right One In) seemed like just the right book for a quiet Thursday evening: young protagonist, exotic location [1], a hint of the supernatural. I’ve read Swedish juvenile fiction so I have a pretty clear idea where this would lead: one part Pippi Longstocking to one part Kalli Blomqvist, am I right? 


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A Dark and Cruel God: the Comedy!

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya  (Haruhi Suzumiya, volume 1)

By Nagaru Tanigawa  (Translated by Chris Pai)

18 May, 2015

Translation

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First published in 2003 as Suzumiya Haruhi no Yūutsu, Nagaru Tanigawa’s popular light novel was translated from the original Japanese to English by Chris Pai and published under the title The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Little, Brown’s Yen Press in 2009

~oOo~

By the time we first meet him, pessimistic high school student and narrator Kyon” (whose real name is never revealed) has resigned himself to the fact that he lives a mundane life in a mundane world and that wonders like aliens, time travel, and ESP powers are matters of pure imagination, nonsense that will never have anything to do with the gray, dull life he will no doubt live. 

And then by chance, he is seated directly in front of Haruhi Suzumiya, disgruntled schoolgirl, noted eccentric, and, quite possibly, living god.


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Attack of the Rootless Cosmicpolitans!

The Fleet of the Springers  (Perry Rhodan, volume 22)

By Kurt Mahr  (Translated by Wendayne Ackerman)

12 Apr, 2015

Translation

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I’ve missed a couple of weeks worth of translated works; I need to catch up. On the other hand, people seem to enjoy my Tears reviews. Here is one intersection of the two types of review.

Perry Rhodan: Peacelord of All the Planets! Unifier of Earth! Guardian of the Galaxy Milky Way! A character who makes me wonder if the German language lacks a word for the concept of subtext! 

The first weekly Perry Rhodan novella appeared in 1961; the ongoing series passed the 2700-episode mark in 2013. Obviously, Perry Rhodan is the Coronation Street of large-scale space opera. 

What it isn’t is … much good, 

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Duelist Noir

The Fencing Master

By Arturo Pérez-Reverte  

25 Mar, 2015

Translation

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Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s 1988 novel El maestro de esgrima, published in English under the title The Fencing Master, takes us to the Spain of 1866, where the long, troubled reign of Isabella II is about to stumble to an end in the Glorious Revolution [1]. Although aware of the political turmoil swirling around him, fencing master Don Jaime Astarloa ignores such grimy realities. He would rather focus on his Quixotic search for the perfect sword thrust, while eking out a small income teaching the gentlemanly art of fencing to upper-class students. Unfortunately for Don Jaime, politics is not going to ignore him.

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Lumikki’s quiet holiday in Prague

As White as Snow  (The Snow White Trilogy, volume 2)

By Salla Simukka  

11 Mar, 2015

Translation

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As White as Snow, the second volume in Salla Simukka’s Snow White trilogy, was originally released in fall 2013 under the title Valkea kuin lumi; the English translation hit virtual bookshelves on March 3rd of this year (2015). It is a great compliment to the first book in the trilogy, As Red as Blood, that I hurried to buy the second book as soon as it was available.

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Better off alone than in bad company

As Red as Blood  (The Snow White Trilogy, volume 1)

By Salla Simukka  (Translated by Owen Witesman)

4 Mar, 2015

Translation

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2014’s As Red As Blood, first book in the Snow White Trilogy, answers a question I didn’t know I had, which is what would happen if a plucky girl detective like Nancy Drew wandered into a Kurt Wallander [1] novel?” Not that seventeen-year-old art student Lumikki Andersson had any intention of playing detective or getting involved in the affairs of three foolish classmates.

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